As the Israel-Hamas conflict heats up, the US on Thursday introduced a program allowing Israelis who want to visit the US for 90 days or fewer to do so without a visa.
Israel joined a select group of 40 nations, largely from Europe and Asia, whose residents no longer need to obtain a visa to visit the United States for a period of three months after the United States announced on September 27 that it was accepting Israel into the visa waiver program.
At the time, the US announced that beginning on November 30th, Israelis would no longer need a visa to enter the US. The Department of Homeland Security stated in a news release that the program was running as of Thursday.
In a news release on Thursday, officials gave no explanation for the revised schedule. But only a few days after Israel was approved for the visa waiver program, Hamas started attacking a number of targets in southern Israel.
Since then, as it gets ready for a ground invasion, the Israeli military has attacked several points in the Gaza Strip nonstop. Israelis first register with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization under the waiver scheme. Homeland Security stated in the news release that this is an automated method that aids in determining if the person is qualified to travel.
Up to 72 hours may pass during the process. They can then depart for America. Israeli citizens must have a passport with biometric capabilities to be eligible. Those without such a passport must nonetheless submit an application for one.
There are three important requirements that nations must achieve in order to participate in the visa program. Over the previous two years, Israel has achieved two of those goals: a low rate of Israelis who filed for visas but were turned down, as well as a low rate of Israelis who overstayed their visas.
Israel has difficulty achieving the third need for reciprocity, which essentially requires that all Americans—including Palestinian Americans—be treated equally while entering or passing through Israel. Many detractors claimed that, despite American claims, Palestinian Americans still encountered prejudice when visiting Israel.